Last week, PGMBM received confirmation from the Government that we had been successful in forcing a U-turn over the costs vulnerable people were incurring as part of the hotel quarantine policy.
While the details of how this will work have not yet been laid out, we are reassured that the Government have listened to reason on this.
“It’s a fantastic outcome for everyone and we are hopeful that our clients will be able to seek some level of redress for the debt and financial hardship they have had to endure because of the cost of quarantining,” Tom Goodhead, Managing Partner said.
The judicial review of the controversial hotel quarantine policy called on the Government to address flaws in charging those of low or no income or who may not have sufficient financial means for any reason.
From the very beginning, we argued that it was not only unfair but also unlawful. Now, the government have committed to introducing a process where people can apply for a fee waiver or reduction in costs on the grounds of financial hardship.
Tom continued: “When we started PGMBM, our priority was to make a difference in people’s lives. My team are so passionate about doing this that they bring me cases they want us to fight almost daily.”
One of the key elements of the challenge was the unlawfulness of the charging system for the hotel quarantine policy. The imposition of the fixed fee of £1,750 or more on anyone travelling to England from a “red list” country did not take into account individual circumstances or a person’s ability to pay.
The policy discriminated against people from low or no-income backgrounds.
“As Managing Partner, it’s my job to decide which cases we take on and which ones we just don’t have the resources for,” Tom Goodhead said.
“It is the hardest part of my role and sometimes we have to say no if we know there is little chance we will be paid for our work.
“But, when we heard the stories of the people impacted by the fixed fee for hotel quarantine, I knew we had to help as much as we could, regardless of whether we could get our costs back.”
Proposed new scheme
At the moment, PGMBM has not yet seen the details of the updated scheme. We have requested details but do not yet know who will be eligible and which criteria must be met to qualify for ‘financial hardship’.
The current scheme, which allows the hotel quarantine fee to be deferred over a maximum of 12 months, is reserved for people facing significant financial hardship. This has been extremely limited, and the application process has been vague and inconsistent.
We are hopeful that the new scheme will be broader and its application a lot clearer.
More uncertainty surrounds whether the scheme will apply to the claimants or to anyone who will have completed hotel quarantine and paid the fee before the scheme came into place.
That is, whether people who have paid the £1,750+ charge but could not afford it will be able to ask for a backdated waiver or reduction. More than 40,000 people have been through the scheme so far, so this could potentially involve a lot of people.
We hope to hear more about this in the upcoming weeks and will be releasing an update as soon as we have more information.
However, the government has confirmed that the claimants’ we represented – none of whom could afford the charge – cases will be reviewed.
A big thank you
We are hopeful that this means there may be a chance for people who have already completed their stay in hotel quarantine to be able to have the amount that they owe the Government reviewed.
Tom continued: “It is a testament to the powerful arguments raised in our challenge that the Government have conceded that the claimants were right all along.
“It is disappointing, though, that it has taken almost four months since these arguments were first raised and our thoughts remain with the thousands of people who are suffering because of the policy.
“In the meantime, we want to say a big thank you once again to everyone who has supported the challenge. The pressure exerted on the Government appears to have paid off, with the campaign looking as if it will be a successful one.
“We promise to keep you posted with any further developments.”
For more information about the case click here.